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Gay Marriages Get Recognition From the I.R.S. – NYTimes.com

The United States of America today heard from the one state that matters–the federal government, our nation state, regarding fairness and equality for all its citizens under the federal tax code.

“All same-sex couples who are legally married will be recognized as such for federal tax purposes, even if the state where they live does not recognize their union, the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service said Thursday.

It is the broadest federal rule change to come out of the landmark Supreme Court decision in June that struck down the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, and a sign of how quickly the government is moving to treat gay couples in the same way that it does straight couples.”

MORE via Gay Marriages Get Recognition From the I.R.S. – NYTimes.com.

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Filed under: Blogosphere, Culture Think, Discrimination, Family Policy, Gender, Gender Policy, Intolerance, News, Public Policy, , ,

Texas Senate Approves Strict Abortion Measure – NYTimes.com

Are we really going to let the political barrens impoverish our political discourse yet again with another season of the “abortion debate”?

When a young women agonizes about being pregnant or we, as a society, have to deal with the horror of a baby not being born because the women carrying it chooses not to do so, must we take sides and make a spectacle out of that perinatal situation?  

Those weeks prior to a baby’s birth and the first few weeks of their lives are magical.  But we are not talking here about having a baby or planning to have one.  We are talking about, for whatever reason, an unwanted pregnancy.  To be sure, the abortion debate is more about a women’s choice whether to reach the perinatal period in the first place.  Being pregnant in the early stages is greatly defined by why you are pregnant.  It just is.

But abortion, like so many semantically charged issues, has become a political boogyman in our society that is pulled out in the battle of women’s liberation vs. the self proclaimed “moral majority”.  Imagine that–intelligent people on both sides let the boogyman out.  Today’s media circus allows the few to speak for the many.  In this way, an artificial discourse develops and is seen as real and scientific regarding public opinion.  Public media becomes public opinion.  

Abortion is a sad and horrible fact.  The use of the issue as political fodder is wrong.  The less sexy issue is the feminization of poverty, for example–how so many women are uneducated, disempowered and abused.  Abortion further demonizes these women and their circumstances.  Perhaps people of means who have internal demons are more comfortable with boogymen and as such summon them or at least willingly join the party.  That women get pregnant in circumstances that are not optimal for the commitment to the growth and birth of the fetus is a fact of life that is not likely to go away.  What we do about it as families, neighborhoods and communities to support women’s sexual health is the real issue.  Politicians rallying masses of voters will not help solve the central question. Women’s sexual health is often compromised and the outcome of child birth is too often a big problem.

Smart powerful women, or conservative ladies who have their husband’s power behind them, have the time and wherewithal to go on these intellectual and perhaps spiritual pony rides.  On the other hand you have the women who do not have the means.  Most of these anguishing women  and the fetuses which define their predicament are canon fodder in the “good fight”.  There are four kinds of people in this struggle.  There are the good people fighting the evil people.  There are the people who are considered the evil people by the good.  There are the people who are considered crazy by most bystanders who have to endure the charade.  It’s really difficult to tell who is who–it depends where one is standing.

Abortion has never been a problem for those who have the means to deal with it.  That is, to avoid it and have the baby put up for adoption as many did in before the 1970s when the choice became endorsed and supported–liberating young women seemingly everywhere.    Today, it is still being dealt with by those of means.  That is, conservative politicians looking to drum up support from the believing masses and women’s rights groups who have the wherewithal to define the fight, educate the soldiers, and speak in one voice for such a cacophony of human suffering and hope.   This sanguine struggle pales in comparison to any other civil rights issue because it is so private and at its center is not baby killing but a single women’s choice about her body, her psyche and perhaps her soul.  How many issues involve sex, blood, shame, hell and even death?  But poverty has seized to be the issue of the day and sexuality and babies make for better television.  Long gone are the poor welfare mothers who were the demons of yesterday for some and the soldiers in the minds of liberal causes.  Bill Clinton had his way with so many women, not to mention the million he kicked off of welfare with his Welfare Act.  At last, irony forces all of us to open our eyes and think.  Who is really the friend of these women in their darkest hour?

The truth may be that abortion has become an ideological scapegoat, a powerful political tool and a cattle call. Instead of really coming together and fixing the problems that divide us as a nation and impoverish us as communities, abortion as a maternal and child health perspective divides us, brings out the worst in many, and does not solve the ageless problem of child birth as a challenge that overcomes some.  But abortion is good politics because it gets folks riled up, to dig in their pockets and to pound the pavement for a cause.  Right or wrong–right or left…  It all depends where you stand…  It rarely depends on where the most disempowered young and scared women stand.  The choice is personal, spiritual and perhaps mostly economic.  It’s not about women’s liberation… It’s more about having the means–and in politics having the means means getting votes… Abortion moves people.

Here we go again.  The bread and butter issues were not good enough to rabble up the masses.  It is insane.  It is hardly believable and definitely more difficult to fully comprehend.  We are all getting riled up again about the “A” word.  Never mind that it mostly happens as a consequence of a very private act, without much public notice and with our most private parts.   No… that does not matter to the ideological gladiators right and left who have a ticket to ride because they perceive that their bodies are being controlled or that they must intervene in the most personal and spiritual moment of a women’s life–to help or to judge–to help her make a choice or to make communion with a political church that is pushing popular and political orthodoxy.

“The Texas Senate gave final passage on Friday to one of the strictest anti-abortion measures in the country, legislation championed by Gov. Rick Perry, who rallied the Republican-controlled Legislature late last month after a Democratic filibuster blocked the bill and intensified already passionate resistance by …”

via Texas Senate Approves Strict Abortion Measure – NYTimes.com.

Filed under: Abortion, Blogosphere, ethics, faith-based, Feminization of Poverty, Gender, Gender Policy, ideology, Maternal and Child Health, News, Parenting

Women’s Health | The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

Visit the Kaiser Foundation website by clicking below to get the facts on women’s health.

“Select a subcategory on the left to see how the indicators compare across the states. Results will be shown as a table, map, or trend graph as available.”

via Women’s Health | The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

Filed under: Abortion, access to education, Aging, Behavioral Health Outcomes, Blogosphere, consumers, Feminization of Poverty, Gender, Gender Policy, Health and Exercise, Health Literacy, Health Policy, Healthcare Reform, Public Health, Public Policy, Women's rights, , , , ,

Pentagon chief vows to ‘fix’ military’s sexual assault problem | Reuters

The army has relied mostly on brawn for the greater part of its existence.  Its culture has been shaped by a resilient gender segregation that the dependence on male power has perpetuated.  However, today’s army is increasingly computer and technologically driven–gender may be mattering less and less.  Drones are replacing the boys but the boy culture changes much slower than the technology.  The values and psychology of today’s army boys is tethered to the attitudes which their parents have embedded in them.  Those ties cannot be broken.  They can be mediated by rules and incentives (negative and positive), but they cannot be completely eradicated in the average soldier who joins a tradition of male discipline and aggression honored and admired by the women in their lives and expected by their male heroes.

To be sure, today’s army would look like camp scouts compared to the savage herds that define the  history and origins of war itself.   But it is an uncomfortable place for young heroic women who grew up in an age that promises them equality in all areas of their lives.  Ironically, the fight to change the deep male traditions that form our fighting forces may be more difficult than field combat itself where they can pull a trigger or a button and wipe out a dozen men they may not even get to visualize or even hear.  Such is the challenge for today’s army–we have technological power and intellectual power beyond our enemies but the real enemy our army faces today is our inability to get along as fellow patriotic Americans or simply human beings.  Of course, that is also the reason we go to war against other nations in the first place.

“Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered top military chiefs on Friday to redouble their effort to address the problem of sexual assault, saying the frequency and perceived tolerance of the crime was …”

via Pentagon chief vows to ‘fix’ military’s sexual assault problem | Reuters.

Filed under: Blogosphere, Culture Think, Demographic Change, Discrimination, drone attacks, Gender, Gender Policy, Intolerance, News, regulations, Women's rights, , , , ,

Social policies: Time to scrap affirmative action | The Economist

Affirmative action rears its ugly head once again as the usually intellectually rigorous London Economist magazine publishes an article (link below) making an argument on the deleterious effects of affirmative action policies for beneficiaries, institutions and societies in general.

The main problem with the article is that it sees people of color (or ethnic minorities) as both the “weak classes” and the beneficiaries of these policies.  The article writer fails to understand that a good number of people belonging to the so called “majority” or “white” as the article calls them, are also tremendously disadvantaged and cyclically in poverty by region and sometimes by religious group or region of the country (Catholics compared to Episcopalians and people from the Appalachia region compared to New Yorkers).

The overwhelming majority of people in America are so called “White.”   Poverty is not simply a skin color problem.  Affirmative action is not perfect and plenty of examples can be found of cases in which it is abused or inappropriately taken advantage of.  This does not mean that there’s no need to address historical differences between groups that have experienced circumstances which precluded their development in the educational and business fields, for example.

When  society invests in the children of the poor to ensure that future generations can continue to prosper and contribute to society in greater ways we all benefit.

When specific groups have been locked out for so long that lack of education, sophistication or opportunity defines their relationship to society, then society has a responsibility to address that condition.  Whether we see that “responsibility” as a moral or as a self interested proposition, does not really matter.  The fact is that when societies invest in their citizens they benefit all of society and improve their lot vis a vis other societies who experience the drag and social dislocation caused by an underclass.  The following article in the Economist fails to understand this simple logic.  Read it and tell us what you think?

“ABOVE the entrance to America’s Supreme Court four words are carved: “Equal justice under law”. The court is pondering whether affirmative action breaks that promise. The justices recently accepted a case concerning a vote in Michigan that banned it, and will …”

via Social policies: Time to scrap affirmative action | The Economist.

Filed under: African American, Blogosphere, Children and Poverty, Culture Think, Demographic Change, Discrimination, Education Policy, ethnicity in politics, Feminization of Poverty, Gender, Gender Policy, ideology, Intolerance, Latinos, Minority Males, News, Policy ThinkShop Comments on other media platforms, , ,

Report Faults India Government Over Child Sex Abuse – NYTimes.com

India’s troubles continue beyond its economic slump into its social fabric.  The immense country is home to a huge portion of the world children and it’s laws do not seem up to the task of nurturing and protecting them.  India is a society of hierarchy and class leaving many poor children at the mercy of those with privilege and power…

“Sexual abuse of children is “disturbingly common” in India, and the government’s response to it has fallen short, both in protecting children and in treating victims, Human Rights Watch said in a report released…”

via Report Faults India Government Over Child Sex Abuse – NYTimes.com.

Filed under: Behavioral Health Outcomes, Blogosphere, Child Abuse, Children and Poverty, Community Tragedy, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Culture Think, Gender, Gender Policy, Maternal and Child Health, News, Parenting, political corruption, Political Economy, Women's rights,

George Packer: Hillary Clinton’s Diplomatic Legacy : The New Yorker

Amazing to see how young, vibrant and bubbly Hillary Clinton became a “Senior Statesman.”  Anything is possible in today’s world and now we await Hillary’s next big step….

“After four exhausting years, Hillary Clinton leaves the State Department with an impressive record of air miles logged, town-hall meetings held, important but neglected issues highlighted, international crises defused, gaffes avoided, citizens of the United States and the world wowed, and White House policies …”

MORE via George Packer: Hillary Clinton’s Diplomatic Legacy : The New Yorker.

Filed under: Blogosphere, Gender, geopolitical, International Relations, News, , ,

Election-Day Victories for Same-Sex Marriage – Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life

Follow the fats on gay marriage at the Pew Foundation web…  It’s one of the best places for clear and sober facts on this important civil rights issue….

“On Nov. 6, 2012, supporters of same-sex marriage won key victories at the ballot box in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington state. In Maine, voters approved a ballot initiative legalizing gay marriage, just three years after they had voted to invalidate a same-sex marriage law. Maine becomes the first state to legalize gay marriage by popular vote. In Maryland and Washington state, voters rejected efforts to invalidate statutes legalizing gay marriage that had been enacted earlier in 2012. Those laws will now take effect as originally planned. Finally, in Minnesota, voters rejected a ballot initiative that would have written a same-sex marriage ban into the state’s constitution, leaving in place an existing statutory ban.”

More via Election-Day Victories for Same-Sex Marriage – Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

Filed under: Blogosphere, Culture Think, Election 2012, Gender, Gender Policy, News, Vote, WeSeeReason, ,

Behind Gay Marriage Momentum, Regional Gaps Persist | Pew Research Center for the People and the Press

Want to cut to the facts on the gay marriage story?  The Pew Foundation website has a nice read …

“Supporters of same-sex marriage won key victories in several states Tuesday, including the first instances in which laws allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally were approved by voters.

This comes at a time when support for same-sex marriage has been on the rise. Across four Pew Research Center surveys this year, 48% of Americans say they favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally, while 43% are opposed. Just four years ago, in the 2008 election cycle, 51% opposed making same-sex marriages legal and 39% supported it.

The steep recent trend has continued over the course of …”

via Behind Gay Marriage Momentum, Regional Gaps Persist | Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.

Filed under: Blogosphere, Culture Think, Discrimination, Gender, Gender Policy, News, , ,

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Donald Trump’s full inauguration speech transcript, annotated – The Washington Post

In seemingly endless times of “trash talk” that led to an improbable and unpopular political victory, the newly minted president clamors: “Now arrives the hour of action.” Fleeting relief comes to the nation as the transition […]

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